Tory spat as LBC reveals culture secretary to roll back on Channel 4 privatisation

4 January 2023, 20:43 | Updated: 4 January 2023, 20:49

Nadine Dorries has criticised the u-turn
Nadine Dorries has criticised the u-turn. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Nadine Dorries has criticised the government for u-turning on its decision to privatise Channel 4.

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The former culture secretary announced plans last year to take the channel out of public ownership, arguing that it would help the broadcaster evolve to survive alongside streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.

She was quick to hit out at the change, tweeting: “Three years of a progressive Tory government being washed down the drain. Levelling up, dumped.

"Social care reform, dumped. Keeping young and vulnerable people safe online, watered down. A bonfire of EU leg, not happening. Sale of C4 giving back £2b reversed. Replaced with what?”

It comes after Global Player's The News Agents podcast exclusively revealed that Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan had written to the Prime Minister recommending the Government drops its plans to privatise Channel 4.

Read more: Culture Secretary tells PM she thinks Channel 4 privatisation should not go ahead

Lewis Goodall speaks on privatisation of Channel 4

Speaking to LBC's Iain Dale, Lewis Goodall explained the Tories would not have the numbers to pass the privatisation even if they wanted to.

"I don’t think they wanted to do it but you can see that Sunak… they saw this was going to be a running sore within parliament and it wasn’t worth the political energy.

"Even if they wanted to do it, they didn’t have the votes and they also probably didn’t have the time.

"One of the interesting things that’s already happening as we've moved into 2023 is that psychologically we’re talking about a general election next year – theoretically it could be in January 2025 but it won't be.

"And that sharpens the minds of not only MPs across the Commons but also No10, thinking what are the battles we want to have and what are the battles we can have."

He also noted that Ms Donelan believed the move could be a popular one among some Tories.

In the letter, she said she has "concluded that pursuing a sale at this point is not the right decision and there are better ways to secure C4C's (Channel 4 Corporation) sustainability and that of the independent production sector".

She added that its role in supporting the independent production sector "would be very disrupted by a sale at a time when growth and economic stability are our priorities".

Channel 4 was created in 1982 by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher and is entirely funded by advertising, out of public ownership.

Lewis Goodall: 'This was a process that had already begun'

A spokesman for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: "We do not comment on speculation. The DCMS Secretary of State has been clear that we are looking again at the business case for the sale of Channel 4.

"We will announce more on our plans in due course."

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